EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Eric Schmitt Demands Biden Administration Explain Latest Student Loan Gambit

(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Republican Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt is demanding that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona explain what legal authority the Biden administration will use to justify its latest attempt to transfer student debt to taxpayers.

The administration initially sought to transfer student loan debt under the 2003 HEROES Act, which gives the president limited authority to forgive certain loans during “a war or other military operation or national emergency.” According to an analysis by the Wharton School of Business, the proposal could have cost taxpayers more than $300 billion over a ten-year period.

The Supreme Court struck down the scheme in a June 30 decision, ruling that the law does not allow the executive branch to issue a mass forgiveness.

Now, amid pressure from activists and congressional Democrats, the administration is planning another attempt to transfer the debt, this time invoking the Higher Education Act and amending income-driven forgiveness rules. Cardona said Friday that the administration could forgive up to $39 billion owed by 804,000 borrowers.

Schmitt, who filed the lawsuit overturning the initial student loan forgiveness when he served as Missouri Attorney General, is demanding that the Biden administration explain how much debt it will forgive, as well as how this new plan is constitutional. (RELATED: White House Quietly Prepares Backup Plan If SCOTUS Strikes Down Student Loan Giveaway: REPORT)

“The Department of Education has determined that the Secretary does not have this authority. As recently as 2021, your Department consulted with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel on this very matter,” he wrote to Cardona Friday, in a letter obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller. “The Court determined student debt cancellation is expressly a decision for the Article I branch, not for un-elected bureaucrats in the Article II branch.”

Read the letter here:

Student Debt Letter by Michael Ginsberg on Scribd

Section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act, cited by Cardona, gives the education secretary the authority “prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of” loan collection. Some Democrats, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, argue that it gives Cardona the power to unilaterally cancel the loans.

“I have already taken this Administration to court once—and won—to stop Biden’s schemes that simply further an unfair bailout,” Schmitt said in a statement to the Caller. “This new proposal will likely fail for the same reasons: our Republic promotes the separation of powers among the branches of our federal government, and the executive branch simply does not have the authority to wipe away billions of dollars of debt.”